Archive for January, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Too-Chen allegations: Prosecutor-General resigns

Taiwan’s Prosecutor-General Chen Tsung-ming (陳聰明) has resigned after the Control Yuan (監院) approved a motion to impeach him for dereliction of duty. At a news conference on Tuesday, he said he resigned because he had no way of providing a good working environment to his investigators into the cases surrounding jailed ex-President Chen Shui-bian (陈水扁). KMT legislators had accused him of being biased in favor of the former president.

Chen Tsung-ming had been nominated by then president Chen Shui-bian in 2007, while the KMT opposed the nomination.

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Related:
Freedom House downgrades Taiwan’s civil liberty rating, January 12, 2010
Taiwan’s Unbelievable Justice, September 12, 2009

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Foreign Correspondents’ Club: Gmail Security

Foreign correspondents in a few bureaus in Beijng have recently discovered that their Gmail accounts had been hijacked, writes the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China. It provides some information of how Gmail users may find out if their mailbox has been compromised, and some security advice.

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Related:
Zeng Jinyan’s Google Account, January 15, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One World, two Internets

Google, China, and a Wake-up Call, The Globe and Mail, January 14, 2010 / published online by Radio Free Asia, January 15, 2010

Related
Quote: Makuwerere Bwititi, January 15, 2010
World Media Summit: Be more Xinhua, October 10, 2009

Monday, January 18, 2010

“Using” the Credit Squeeze?

The following are translated excerpts from a Chinese website focusing on small and medium-sized enterprise.

China State Chairman Hu Jintao has emphasized that China will adhere to the policies of independent innovation, of breakthroughs in central technologies, of supporting development as the leading policies of the future […]. Hu Jintao was on an inspection tour of Shanghai from Thursday through Sunday. [Xinhua quotes him as saying that] China should make use of the monetary squeeze resulting from the international financial crisis (中国必需充分利用国际金融危机形成的倒逼机制), accurately identify the direction for the development of new international industries, firmly continue structural adjustments, further strengthen the capability of independent innovation, promote energy-efficient emission reduction and environmental protection, deepen reform and opening, and secure progress in the transformation of economic development.

Unquote.

JR is no political economist, but curious. It’s fun to try to make sense of science. So…

… a monetary or a credit squeeze can stand for a number of different situations. [1] Scarce money as a result of central banks increasing interest rates (that’s when governments or central banks want money to become more scarce), or [2] when money is scarce simply because demand exceeds supply (which leads to rising interest rates and cools the economy anyway), or [3] when governments borrow  tons of money (for a stimulus package, for example), which will push interest rates, too, sooner or later. (Quantative easing would be a controversial alternative for the situation [3], so as to avoid rising interest rates.)

At first glance, JR, innocent as he is, would tend to believe that Hu Jintao‘s remarks in Shanghai referred to sustainable, less export-driven economic development. As the chairman was talking to research institutes and corporations’ research and development people there, this would sound likely, too. After all, Beijing’s governmental stimulus packages had leaked in food inflation, and into an asset bubble [in equities, real estate and commodities], The Telegraph wrote on January 7.

But the Telegraph’s picture is that China’s coming credit squeeze at home (if it comes), and a desire by its leaders for further exports are two sides of the same intended policy: China appears to be opting for a credit squeeze rather than allowing the yuan to rise against the dollar, euro, and yen – an alternative way to cool the economy. This would be more of the old business pattern: low incomes, high saving rates and little money to push domestic demand in China.

If so, China might be able to heed part one of wide-spread economic advice – cooling the economy at home -, but only at the price of turning a deaf ear to part 2 of it, which is about moving away from the export-led trade pattern.

Zhong Shan, [China]’s vice-minister of trade, declared [on December 27] that China will continue to increase its share of world exports, writes the Economist of January 7, which had led to more trade frictions with North America and Europe already. Here, too, we find some backgrounder for Hu Jintao’s “independent innovation” talk.

China’s future export growth is likely to come not from existing industries but from higher-value products, such as computer chips and cars. Japan’s exports also moved swiftly up the value chain, but whereas this was not enough to support durable gains in its market share, China has the advantage of capital controls that will prevent its exchange rate rising as abruptly as Japan’s did in the 1980s. When China does eventually allow the yuan to rise, it will do so gradually.

If the rest of the world will or should play along with Beijing’s mercantilist strategy is, of course, a different question. Paul Krugman and some European media don’t think we should. Then what about China’s neighborhood? It doesn’t look that promising either. ASEAN, China’s latest free-trade-agreement partner, records a trade deficit of US$21.6 billion with China, five times as big as in 2000, while its trade surplus with America is – naturally – shrinking, according to a Bloomberg article republished by the Tapei Times.

And if trade disputes flare up between ASEAN and China, the much-hailed free-trade agreement (in effect since January 1 this year) doesn’t arrange for rigorous mechanism for settling them, criticizes the Economist, also in its January 7 edition.

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Related:
Welcome, Trade War, January 9, 2010
Chinese New Year, Paul Krugman, New York Times, December 31, 2009
What’s wrong with Overcapacity, December 13, 2009

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Alibaba: Don’t be Reckless

Alibaba Group, which owns Yahoo China, and is in turn mainly owned by the Yahoo Group (39 to 40 per cent), issued a statement on Saturday, criticizing a Yahoo statement supportive of Google as “reckless, given the lack of facts in evidence”. Alibaba’s statement puts it further at odds with Yahoo following an erosion in ties between the companies since Carol Bartz took over as Yahoo’s CEO, writes International Data Group (IDG) in Boston. Alibaba operates e-commerce web sites including the business-to-business platform Alibaba.com.

Just as Google, Yahoo was targeted by cyber attacks, but initially left it to its larger competitor Google to make the attacks public, writes Singapore’s Lianhe Morning Post.

In 2005, Yahoo was accused of passing on information to Chinese authorities which led to a ten-year jail sentence for Contemporary Trade News journalist Shi Tao (师涛), apparently for e-mailing comments made in a newspaper staff meeting to a democracy group in New York.

The incidence had earned Yahoo the verdict “Technologically and financially a giant; morally a pygmy” (科技和金钱上的巨人,道德上的侏儒).

ESWN has translated a Douban post with a possible explanation for Google’s plans to withdraw from China (thanks for the link, Neddy).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Google: Bravo, Tu as Gagné

I know, it’s not nice to say this, and maybe it isn’t fair, but to me, putting flowers onto the grave of google.cn looks both slightly premature, and grossly borderline. To deplore the company’s – probable – withdrawal from China (which might help the CCP to turn the country’s “internet” even further into an intranet) is one thing. But to show affection for a corporation is potty.

Anyway, if this should become a movement for freedom of information, I suggest this song as a hymn. It’s just as weird – and touching.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Labor Dispute in Suzhou Industrial Park

A labor dispute on Friday over year-end bonuses at an LCD supplier’s factory for international mobile phone producers has led to damage on production equipment, according to information from the Suzhou Industrial Park propaganda office, quoted by Shanghai’s Xinmin Evening Post online (新民日报网). Like many other factories in the Suzhou Industrial Park (苏州工业园区), Alliance Technology Co. (联建科技公司), the Taiwan-invested factory, had allegedly planned to cancel the bonuses in the wake of the global financial and economic crisis. The factory, wholly-owned by Taiwan Sheng Hua Technology Co., Ltd. (台湾胜华科技股份有限公司), in operation since April 2000, is reportedly a main supplier for the Apple iPhone‘s touchscreen, for Motorola, and Nokia.

The propaganda office’s press release states that “due to poor day-to-day administration of wages, benefits and bonuses, labor relations are currently tense. Workers from the industrial park who talked with a Xinmin Evening Post reporter said that they didn’t blame companies that didn’t pay bonuses in 2008. However, production at Alliance Technology Co. had picked up again in 2009, the staff had worked overtime, and this had led to discontent among the workforce, a foreman told the paper, which quotes statistics from China Touchscreen Net (中国触摸屏网) suggesting that Taiwan Sheng Hua Technology’s production of medium-sized and small-to-medium-sized screens had benefitted from continuous strong sales by iPhone.

A spokesperson for the company’s Taiwanese headquarters told Xinmin that according to initial understanding, conflicts concerning provident funds [such as for housing or rentals, for example – JR], pension funds, and year-end bonuses had led to the incident (事件). As in previous years, a decision about bonuses couldn’t yet be made, as the holidays were still a month away, the paper quotes the spokesperson.

The Industrial Park Administrative Committee (工委管委会), according to Xinmin, had immediately dealt with the issue and instructed the company to arrange for payment of the year-end bonuses, to address the problems reported by the workforce (针对员工反映公司日常管理中存在的诸多问题), and had also instructed the Taiwanese headquarters to send a high-ranking executive to Suzhou (此外,园区管委会还出面与公司台湾总部联系,责成即派高管来苏处置).

Some 2,000 employees were involved in the protests, according to the BBC. Several policemen had been injured when attacked with bricks. Some workers on strike had been arrested by the police.

In August, five workers were reportedly injured when cleaning LCD panels, using a cleaning agent containing hexane.

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Related:
PRC, Wholly Foreign-owned Enterprise Law (Revised), Huizhou City Government, unknown date of issue.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Zeng Jinyan’s Google Account

Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕) has been advised after a security check that all e-mails from her Google account had been forwarded to an e-mail address unknown to her, “zhaof123@gmail.com”, despite her changing her passwords and checking the settings of her account. The news still didn’t surprise her, she wrote on her blog on Thursday, as her ADSL IP had frequently been hijacked (劫持) or disconnected (切断).

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Related:
Too Evil, January 13, 2009
Tag: Hu Jia (胡佳, Zeng Jinyan’s husband)

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